Kitchen Cabinets – The Engineer’s Way
Have you searched for “Kitchen Cabinets” in Google Warehouse? I was amazed at the thousands of entries in all types and sizes. I recently spent several hours sifting through a number of the citations and downloading several examples. Contemporary, Shaker, traditional, face frame, cherry, open, glass doors, corner, lazy susan, double oven, sink top – you name it and its available there.
But surprisingly, I could not find one example of “real” cabinets – that is, ones that you would actually make in lumber materials. The existing models, while very good, would work for designing your kitchen – that is, arranging an array of base and wall cabinets, along with appliances in your existing kitchen space. (By the way, appliances – all kinds are also found in Google Warehouse – mind boggling, the variety.)
So I found a lot of “pretty pictures” of cabinet models in SketchUp, but nothing that helps an engineer figure out how to build one of these things. There are also many books on building kitchen cabinets and I acquired several recent publications. I wanted to know how these things are built with modern materials, joinery, and tools. Perhaps my attendance at the recent AWFS conference in Las Vegas was a motivation. I was impressed with the sophisticated software applications and powerful CNC machinery. But how does one design and build kitchen cabinets in the home shop?
My review of recent publications helped, but I found these books emphasizing how work is done on the workbench and with shop tools. That is, the books are full of pictures showing table saw set up, pocket hole jigs, and nail guns. Accompanying DVDs are also emphasizing these operations in the shop. But there is less helpful information on the structure, components, joinery, and dimensions. The books describe the “standard” dimensions of cabinets, then show details that are different. Missing are detailed engineering dimensioned drawings.
So with all this background, I began my work in SketchUp with an objective to produce a detailed model and drawing that can be taken to the shop for accurate and efficient production, avoiding ad hoc shop sketches, dimensional calculations, guesses, and decisions on where and how joinery is done.
Note: There are many woodworkers wondering why you need the detail. If you’ve built cabinets before, used biscuits and pocket holes, you know how things work, and you can do it in your head on the fly. But it not so easy the first time.
Here is a series of SketchUp views for the standard 24 x 36 base cabinet. Of course, I would have additional SketchUp views in the shop. Having SketchUp makes it possible to snap any views that will enhance quick and efficient shop procedures.
Developing the detailed SketchUp model is a great rehearsal for the work done in the shop. You are making each component along with its joinery in a computer, and I find that this trains and practices your brain for the processes that must happen in the shop.
I also made the corner cabinet and set it within two standard 36″ base cabinets.